Disappointed by the new Underoath album? Me too. Never fear! If it’s forward-thinking, emotionally-charged, math-and-post-tinged hardcore you’re looking for, then Palm Reader have more than got you covered with their brand new record, Braille.
The Nottingham quintet have long been one of the best kept secrets of the UK hardcore scene. Their previous records are as good as any take on the standard mathcore formula to come out of the UK this side of Frontierer. However, their third full-length effort, Braille, really sees them stepping up to the plate and adding a whole host of expansive influences along the way. As the album goes on, more and more elements are added into the mix, so that by the time drawn-out closer “A Lover, A Shadow” rolls around the band have shifted their focus almost entirely from upbeat post hardcore to producing lush, post-rock-tinged soundscapes.
The overall effect is not at all dissimilar to that created by Underoath’s Define The Great Line (2006) or Norma Jean circa Meridional (2010), albeit with an accentuated post-hardcore basis. “Like A Wave” provides a perfect microcosm of the album. The track functions as the record’s fulcrum—smoothly transitioning from a ferocious hardcore opening to a brooding, post-metal-influenced climax—setting the stage for what’s to come. From there, the album revels in its “post” aspects, with softer interludes like “Dorothy” and “Breach” punctuating the more oppresive surrounds provided by the likes of “A Lover, A Shadow” and “Coalesce” (easily the most Underoath-esque track on here).
Looking backward into their discography, 2013’s Bad Weather provides perhaps the biggest hint toward the direction they would take on Braille. However, it’s their previous record—2015’s Beside The Ones We Love—which has all the hallmarks of a retrospective, underground classic. If you’re looking to get a refreshing mathcore fix in the post-Dillinger Escape Plan era, then this should be your first point of call.
You’d be forgiven for letting Palm Reader slip under your radar up until this point. Now that they’ve got two outstanding albums under their belt, to continue to do so would be a true disservice.